By Rebecca Granet, 1010 WINS
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When two New York City Business Integrity Commission officers showed up at the doorstep of Il Forno Bakery on Aug. 15, it seemed like déjà vu for the bakery’s president Ramon Eduardo.
This time, when they came to his business, it was to follow up on an application that he was asked to fill out in 2011. An application that Eduardo said he thought he had long since completed.
Just about two years earlier, five uniformed officers from the Commission appeared at the Bronx bakery to deliver a letter stating that the bakery had to register with the Business Integrity Commission (BIC). The letter came with a 30 page application and a $4,000 price tag.
“At the very beginning they just showed up here, and actually with firearms,” Eduardo said.
Three months later, the BIC officers returned with photo ID applications for all of the employees, according to Il Forno’s Chief Financial Officer Margaret Condyles. The applications came with $100 price tag per employee.
In addition to the money, it was the application questions that seemed to trouble Eduardo.
“They [his employees] don’t have to tell me or anyone who they’re married, who they’ve been divorced and all those things, where they lived for the last ten years,” Eduardo said. “I have to go and pinpoint each address.”
In a statement to 1010 WINS, BIC said, “The application process is intended to ensure a fair and competitive environment, free from the influence of organized crime for businesses operating in the Hunts Point Markets and the immediate surrounding area. We do not check for immigration status and the fees are tied directly to how much it costs to do the review.”
Edward Taylor, president of Down East Seafood Inc., received a similar visit at his place of business from BIC this year. According to him, the questions on the applications include inquiries about how many times a worker has been married and what family members live with the employee.
“BIC is telling me that I have to make sure these questions are answered and they are answered correctly and everything is notarized, and if my employees don’t do this, they will not be allowed to work there,” Taylor said.
Taylor has 60 employees. In order to comply with BIC’s application requirements, he said he will have to pay $10,000 this year in registration and application fees. He also said he feels that the application questions are highly personal.
“They’re ludicrous questions,” Taylor said. “I don’t see any of it pertinent.”
According to the New York City Business Integrity Commission website, from the mid-1990’s, corrupt influences primarily from organized crime plagued the “city’s private trade waste and wholesale market industries and their associated unions.” The impact of organized crime drove down fair and honest competition in these industries.